Beyond the basics, there are several desirable features to consider when buying a compact digital camera.
- For more creative control
Get a camera with advanced controls such as manual and/or semi-automatic modes, Exposure Compensation and manual focusing.
- Wide angle (28mm equivalent or wider)
Useful for photographing wide scenes; great for getting a wider view inside when backing up is difficult. The faster the lens, the better the low light performance.
- Telephoto zoom (5X and higher)
Zoom in to capture subjects far into the distance. Get a Superzoom if you want to get up close and personal. Image stabilization on cameras with long zooms is highly recommended! Compact digital cameras with long zoom lenses generally do best in good light so if you take a lot of inside photos and have high expectations, a DSLR might be a better choice.
- Low light, high ISO
You can reduce or eliminate the effect of camera shake when taking pictures in low-light by increasing a cameras sensitivity to light using high ISO numbers. The performance of digital single lens reflex cameras is superior to compact cameras at high ISO because they have large sensors. However the high sensitivity capabilities of a growing number of compacts is improving.
- Face detection
The camera detects faces in a scene and automatically focuses and optimizes exposure and flash output. Some cameras let you lock on a specific subject so if he or she moves, focus will follow.
- Variable LCD
Variable LCDs, also known as articulating LCDs, twist and tilt so you can take shots at difficult angles. Particularly useful for close-up shots and self-portraits.
- Extended optical zoom
Extended optical zooms extend the maximum zoom range of a digital camera with little or loss of image quality. However, the camera may shoot at a lower resolution, depending on the chosen zoom range.
- PictBridge compatible
Allows you to use the camera with a PictBridge compatible printer to print photos without a computer.
- Hot shoe
A host shoe is used for mounting an external flash, which can produce much better results than a tiny built-in camera flash.
- Burst mode
Shoot continuously in rapid succession using burst mode. For optimal results you’ll need a compact camera with a fast processor and use a high speed memory card. Most don’t provide the speed of a DSLR.
- Digital camera grip
Each digital camera has a different “feel” so make sure the one you choose fits comfortably in your hands. Some have a built-in grip making it easier to carry the camera as well as handle it when taking photos.
- Diopter adjustment dial
A diopter adjustment dial lets you adjust the clarity of a viewfinder. It is particularly useful if you don’t want to wear your eye glasses when taking photos. Be aware that not every camera that has a viewfinder has a diopter adjustment. If this feature is important to you, check before making a purchase.